Nick McDonell at Harvard Book Store
On American Privilege
in conversation with MATTHIEU AIKINS
September 25, 2023
7:00 PM ET
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes NICK MCDONELL—best-selling author and journalist—for a discussion of his new book Quiet Street: On American Privilege. He will be joined in conversation by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author, MATTHIEU AIKINS.
About Quiet Street
Nick McDonell grew up on New York City’s Upper East Side, a neighborhood defined by its wealth and influence. As a child, McDonell enjoyed everything that rarefied world entailed—sailing lessons in the Hamptons, school galas at the Met, and holiday trips on private jets. But as an adult, he left it behind to become a foreign correspondent in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Quiet Street, McDonell returns to the sidewalks of his youth, exhuming with bracing honesty his upbringing and those of his affluent peers. From Galápagos Island cruises and Tanzanian safaris to steely handshakes and schoolyard microaggressions to fox-hunting rituals and the courtship rites of sexually precocious tweens, McDonell examines the rearing of the ruling class in scalpel-sharp detail, documenting how wealth and power are hoarded, encoded, and passed down from one generation to the next. What’s more, he demonstrates how outsiders—the poor, the nonwhite, the suburban—are kept out.
Searing and precise yet ultimately full of compassion, Quiet Street examines the problem of America’s one percent, whose vision of a more just world never materializes. Who are these people? How do they cling to power? What would it take for them to share it? Quiet Street looks for answers in a universal experience: coming to terms with the culture that made you.
Praise for Quiet Street
"Quiet Street is an exquisitely rendered horror story about American inequity, and how it mindlessly, immorally, reproduces itself. Unlike most such stories, however, this one left me believing in the possibility (and necessity) of drastic change. Nick McDonell writes with a scalpel in one hand, and in the other, a bushel of grace." —Maggie Nelson, author of On Freedom
“Friendships with Upper East Side elites, attendance at prestigious schools like Buckley, Harvard, and Oxford, and travel to exotic locations . . . as McDonell illuminates a rarified world of money, power, and connections, he also offers candidly sobering insight into the systemic cultural mechanisms designed to protect long-standing social inequalities. An eloquent and compelling study.” —Kirkus Reviews
Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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